PICS AND VIDEOS: Tornado leaves trail of destruction in KZN farming community
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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal was not out of the woods yet after heavy rains lashed the province and two tornadoes hit in the matter of days.
The authorities have warned of severe thunderstorms accompanied by heavy downpours expected over most parts of KwaZulu-Natal from Thursday until late on Friday.
“The potential impact of the severe thunderstorms with heavy downpours could result in the flooding of roads, which in turn could lead to major travel disruptions and incidents. Flooding of settlements, both formal and informal, as well as the closure of low-lying bridges is possible. The public is urged to be cautious as the inclement weather may result in fast-flowing streams and deep water. The storms, which will be accompanied by lightning, hail and strong winds, may pose danger to life, vehicles and structural damage,” said eThekwini spokesperson Mandla Nsele.
The SA Weather Service said the storm’s peak would centre over the south central region between uMlazi and Pinetown.
Meanwhile, Mpolweni residents described their terror when the tornado struck on Tuesday afternoon.
The tornado left two dead and many injured.
Debris was strewn over the area on Wednesday, with bits and pieces of corrugated iron all over the ground and lodged in, or hanging from, power lines. Trees and fences were also uprooted and many homes were left without roofs.
The tornado left a trail of destruction in the farming community of Mpolweni. Video: Thobeka Ngema
Residents said first the sky and clouds became dark, then there was strong wind and heavy rainfall, followed by a circling wind which moved in an unpredictable pattern.
When the weather turned, Nonhlanhla Buthelezi, 44, told her three children to seek shelter at a neighbour’s house and she would follow them.
“After it stopped raining we looked for her, but she wasn’t at the neighbour’s house. I asked them to look for her under our house’s fallen wall and that’s where they found her,” said her daughter, Noluthando Buthelezi, 19.
“My mom tried by all means to ensure that we went to bed with full stomachs, because she didn’t work. She used the grant money to buy us food.”
On the other side of the valley, Thunyeliwe Ndlovu, 63, lost her son, Sphelele Ndlovu, 40, who was buried under rubble in their home.
Ndlovu said she, her son and a neighbour went into the house when the weather changed.
“While we were sitting, I got up to get a jersey. Then I heard a sound and something fell. My son was buried under bricks and I tried to get him out, but I couldn’t,” Ndlovu said.
A tree fell onto Nonhlanhla Buthelezi's house, killing her, before she could leave to find shelter. Video: Thobeka Ngema
“After the weather abated, we got people to help us and we got him out.”
Ndlovu said she spent Tuesday night at another son’s home.
Her neighbour, Lindiwe Magwaza, 60, suffered an injury to her nose while she tried to shield four children in her bedroom.
“I don’t even know how I got hurt. Parts of the room had collapsed on top of us,” Magwaza said.
She said yesterday she had asked young men from the community to attach corrugated iron to the roof so they had a place to sleep last night.
“I’m still picking up school supplies for the children, which got scattered during the storm. I don’t know how they will write exams,” Magwaza said.
“I am diabetic and I have high blood pressure. I went to bed on an empty stomach on Tuesday and I couldn’t take my medication.”
Magwaza said she did not know how they would put their lives together again because they lived off the children’s grants and her older person’s grant.
Married couple Velaphi and Velephi Mncube were alone when the tornado hit. Velephi sustained a cut to her face which required stitches.
“I don’t know whether it was a log or metal that hit me, I just felt myself bleeding,” Velephi said.
“During the tornado, it felt like the house was uprooting, until it eventually blew away.”
She said like others, they spent Tuesday night with neighbours. Government officials, including Premier Sihle Zikalala, visited the affected areas yesterday and reported that “huge damage has been inflicted on infrastructure, with several homes having roofs blown away and others having completely collapsed”. Some roads were washed away, with many trees uprooted and electricity supply interruptions.
With disaster teams on the ground, food, blankets, mattresses and other urgent necessities were provided to victims.
“Most public facilities, such as churches and community halls, are being used to house those displaced by the violent storms.
“The estimated damage will be known once the full assessments have been concluded, but the damages are estimated to run into millions of rand,” the government said in a statement.